It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you need to spend money to have fun. We’re bombarded with advertising telling us to spend our way to happiness. However, there are plenty of ways to have fun for free.
If I look back on my happiest memories, they weren’t the things I spent the most money on: sleeping in a hammock seeing a split screen sky with the sun rising over mountains while stars still twinkled in a velvet-black sky on the other side of the peaks; eating sun-warmed alpine strawberries for the first time in my grandad’s garden; ambling along the canal with my partner-to-be, and falling in love over a series of nature walks.
There are hundreds of ways to enjoy free fun with nature’s help. Here are a few to try this weekend.
I recommend foraging a lot – but that’s because it’s got so much going for it. You can get free food that’s loaded with vitamins, while getting close to nature and getting exercise. And you get to have pie or crumble once you’ve foraged for fruit – along with jam to give you a taste of autumn throughout the winter.
You’ve got until September 29th to pick blackberries before the devil spits on them and renders them inedible, according to folklore. (An alternate reading is that blackberries are more likely to be maggoty by October. Near me, they’ve mostly passed over already anyway.)
If you get lucky, you may also find nuts – I found hazelnuts scattered over the pavement recently. These can make a great addition to Christmas hampers – if you can resist eating them fresh from the tree.
Feed the Birds
Wherever you are, there are birds to feed. From ducks along the canal to blackbirds in the garden, a few handfuls of bird seed can lead to a joy-filled afternoon. Take photos of the birds to take a closer look or simply enjoy watching the birds as you feed them.
You can make a bird fat feeder by mixing oats and seeds together in a tin and topping up with cooking fat. Using leftover cooking fat to make bird feeders also helps avoid fatbergs in the sewers. Put a string through the middle to hang it from, and tie it to a tree well away from any cats. Then just sit back and watch the wildlife.
Make Nature Art
There’s more than just fruit to forage. Seed heads and pine cones are both great for crafting. You can make seedpod bouquets with feathers; or pine cone hedgehogs or Christmas trees.
You can also make leaf rubbings, acorn dolls, apple dolls, herb garlands, cards from pressed flowers and hundreds of other things. You don’t need a huge crafting stash: a glue gun, scissors, tape, twine, beads and paint or pens open up numerous crafts.
These are far from the only options. You can go on a woodland walk, spend an afternoon baking, build a hedgehog house, go wild camping or have an autumn BBQ, with hot chocolate to keep out the chill. Rather than spending money, spend time in nature – maybe taking friends or family too. The best things in life really can be free.